After about a year of campaigning, the Democratic presidential primaries are happening now. The Iowa caucuses, New Hampshire primary and Nevada caucuses have shown just how much of a toss-up this election could be. What once was a field of 29 candidates has now become just eight. Each candidate has increasingly stepped up their game by either using momentum from Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada or trying to make up ground. This includes focusing on the Georgia vote and the 129 delegates at stake in the state .
Georgia’s primary is different from previous years as we now have a different date than usual: March 24. In the past, we have been lumped in with states such as Massachusetts, Virginia, Alabama and Texas on Super Tuesday. This year, the Georgia Democratic Party chose to use a new paper-ballot voting system to replace the one we’ve used for the past 18 years; this required training for the county officials in charge of the election in order to make sure primary day goes smoothly across the state, thus pushing the day back a few weeks.
After both New Hampshire and Iowa, Senator Bernie Sanders and former Mayor Pete Buttigieg took the lead. The biggest surprise has been how poorly former Vice President Joe Biden has performed in these past elections; however, these two states are primarily comprised of white voters with little diversity . Biden is relying on the black vote in such states as South Carolina and Georgia to earn enough delegates to become the Democratic nominee. In a recent poll by Landmark Communications, Biden appears to be Georgia’s frontrunner with 32.1%. Bernie Sanders comes in second with 14.2%, and former Mayor Michael Bloomberg in third with 14.0% . The majority of Biden’s support comes from people over the age of 40, with Sanders gaining a bit of a lead on Biden when it comes to younger voters. Everyone else is under 10%.
Most recently in Nevada, Sanders has seemed to pull away from the pack and gain a significant lead on the other candidates. The Vermont senator took away 24 delegates from the state and had 46.8% of the vote. This was more than twice the amount the runner-up, Biden, received, with only 20.2% of the vote. However, Biden viewed these results as a win due to how much better he did in the Nevada caucus as compared to the two previous states . What is significant about Sanders win in Nevada is how diverse his voters were. Nevada is a much more diverse state with 35% of voters are non-white, while both Iowa and New Hampshire are 93% white. Sanders captured a diverse group of supporters in both race and age; after the results came in, he referred to his win as an “multigenerational, multiracial coalition” . Sanders now has begun to pull away from the more liberal candidates in terms of support; however, the moderates still seem to be looking for their main contender. It appears that these next primaries will help guide this still crowded race into determining who the main two, or even three, contenders may be.
Many of these candidates rely on endorsements from key Georgia officials. Biden has earned the endorsement from Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms as well as 26 black state legislators .
Former Mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg has campaigned a great deal in Georgia. Bloomberg has hired 50 staffers to work in eight offices and has the largest operation of all the Democratic candidates in the state. In early February, he conducted a statewide tour and stopped in Macon, Savannah and Atlanta to discuss gun safety . Bloomberg has earned endorsements from Representative Lucy McBath and DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond . Thurmond is one of the major voices in the Georgia Democratic Party, thus his endorsement carries a great deal of weight for Bloomberg.
Senator Elizabeth Warren has opened offices in Macon, Columbus, Atlanta, Savannah and Athens. Warren has gained endorsements from three school officials in Atlanta’s suburbs in hopes of picking up the suburban vote, with changing demographics in some of the counties, such as Gwinnett [9,10].
What could be a major decider in these upcoming weeks is what happens on Super Tuesday, which is March 3. Mayor Bloomberg will finally be on the ballot and 14 states will vote on who they want to be the Democratic nominee, including two of our most populous states, California and Texas. This could cause some of the eight nominees to drop out and a potential Biden drop out if he doesn’t perform better than his last two showings. If Biden were to drop out, then endorsements may switch to Bloomberg, who carries a similar message to the former vice president.
With advance voting beginning on March 2 , the countdown to Georgia’s primary on March 24 has already begun. The deadline to register to vote in the primary was February 24, and if you are registered, be sure to know your polling location, as it could be updated. It is as important a time, if not even more, for Georgians to give our input on who we want to represent the Democratic Party come November.
Written by: Maddi Moore